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NEWS | April 19, 2024

Intelligence branch honored at White House, receives presidential award

By Michelle L. Gordon

A team from the Aviation and Missile Command intelligence and security division received a presidential award during a ceremony held at the White House in Washington, D.C., April 16. 

Sponsored by the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, the Killian Award is presented to an organization, unit, or individual within the intelligence community each year to recognize excellence in five categories: analysis, collection, science and technology, mission support or intelligence oversight. The PIAB advises the president of the United States on the quality and effectiveness of intelligence and counterintelligence. The award is named for Dr. James Ryne Killian, the board’s first chairman and the first presidential assistant for science and technology. 

The AMCOM G2 Threat Support Branch received the award in the mission support category for their significant contributions in support of the Program Executive Office — Missiles and Space. 

While most of what they do is classified, Threat Branch Chief Frank Vegerita II said the team provided technical intelligence support while directly contributing to the safety of allied forces deployed into harm’s way. Many systems developed at Redstone Arsenal are currently deployed and engaged in different theaters worldwide. Vegerita’s team identifies tactics and countermeasures that can directly affect the systems in real-time overseas.

“When the PEOs are developing a new weapons system or platform, or when they are updating and improving a legacy system, the intelligence analysts look at the near-peer threats to see if they have the capability to combat those systems,” he said. 

AMCOM G2 Deputy Director Louis McMillian Jr. said intelligence integration is imperative to ensure their customers receive the most timely and relevant threat information possible to inform their mission decisions. He added that some of the strategic effects of that integration are high levels of credibility and trustworthiness, which the PEOs immensely value.

“Our intelligence teams have to be fully integrated into the program/project offices at the PEOs to dissect and understand their weapons system perspectives at the subcomponent level,” McMillian said. “This allows us, as intelligence professionals, to better understand what threat intelligence to inject, where and when to inject it, and how to inject threat intelligence considerations into the acquisition cycle to help inform weapons program decisions.” 

Vegerita said some weapons systems take upwards of twenty years to develop, and they do not want to wait until those systems are fielded to discover that the adversaries have a way to defeat them, so the threat support team continuously monitors the intelligence environment. 

“We present the information to the program managers and engineers developing the technology,” he said. “Then they have to decide whether to accept risk or make an adjustment to overcome that near-peer capability.”

Regarding his team receiving the Killian Award and being recognized for their efforts, Vegerita said, “We made a very positive impact, not just on the program office and the development of their system, but the information we provided assisted the actual operators of the weapons system out in the field — and that doesn’t always happen.”

Vegerita, a retired naval officer, said most AMCOM intelligence analysts are retired military service members. Many of them either worked in the intelligence career field while in uniform or operated the weapons systems they now support in their civilian capacity. While they work for AMCOM, they are attached to program offices to work alongside engineers to better understand the weapons systems and possible vulnerabilities.

“We really have to work hand-in-glove with the engineers to understand how their systems work, as well as their needs and requirements,” he said. “We talk specifically about threats to the systems, and we must know what each other is doing. The engineers have to know the implications of what we’re telling them, and we have to understand the systems that they’re building. They are making material changes to the platforms based on the information we provide them. It’s a partnership; we get to see the benefit of what we do every day.”

McMillian said the award is a historic win for AMCOM, Redstone Arsenal and the Department of the Army, and he hopes the national recognition will help attract more intelligence analysts to the Huntsville, Alabama market, which is more commonly associated with rocket science.

“I am proud to be associated with such stellar employees whose work will most likely not be able to be disclosed in an open forum due to security classification restrictions, but whose impact is being felt worldwide,” he said. “Winning the Killian Award is a monumental and distinctive achievement in that we compete with other activities across the intelligence community. It only confirms what we in the AMCOM G2 leadership already know: that we have some of the best intelligence analysts in the nation residing right here at Redstone Arsenal.”

AMCOM G2 Threat Support Branch Killian Award winners
Gretchen S. Abbott
Joshua A. Adams
Shannon J. Baker
Michael Barry Fields
Joel T. Lackey
Joshua R. May
Christine A. Miller
Patrick Passler
Russell D. Parman
Karl P. Peterson
Ryan C. Pickett
Tracy A. Ralphs
Richard E. Romine
Jordan M. Summers
Frank W. Vegerita II
Charles G. Woodward